Paul Gascoigne didn’t need Hall of Fame nomination shambles

Paul Gascoigne, playing for Rangers (Pic: TSPL)
Paul Gascoigne, playing for Rangers (Pic: TSPL)

There is no higher honour for any sportsman than to be inducted into a Hall of Fame.

It’s a public acknowledgement of their career, the successes it brought and the impact they made on and off the pitch.

Hall of Fame nights are incredibly special.

I’ve been part of the four-man team which has organised every Raith Rovers ‘Hall of Fame event since 2012.

Every year we have one clear aim - to ensure we do the inductees, and their families, proud. Nothing else takes priority.

This is their moment.

On a stage filled with legends, from citation to induction, we ensure their moment in the spotlight is done with dignity and respect.

I’ve seen the entire theatre rise as one to applaud and honour the true greats, and to embrace the families of legends no longer with us as they step up to the stage.

Those moments are deeply touching. They stay in the memory forever.

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Paul Gascoigne was due to be inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame later this month.

The invitation has now been publicly rescinded.

It is beyond my comprehension how the organisers allowed this narrative to run out of control, and then did their best to find a way out when the backlash got too much.

Gascoigne’s life story is an open book.

A genius on the pitch - a wreck off it.

His darkest moments are indefensible, his battle with alcoholism and his mental health almost unbearable to watch – you fear the worst with every step back, and will him on at every sign of progress – but he retains the love and affection of many football fans who remember a player Sir Bobby Robson described as “daft as a brush.’’

Daft and outrageously talented. The “crown prince of football’’ was Vinnie Jones’ perfect summation.

A footballer who lit up games with flair and fun, and was probably only ever happy – and safe -–the moment the whistle blew for kick-off.

Ask 100 football fans for a view on Gazza going into the Hall of Fame in a country where he only played three years, and you’ll get 100 very different opinions about the man, his character and his goals.

The organisers who endorsed his induction should have known that and been prepared – or simply left his nomination in the pending file.

Gascoigne didn’t ask for this award, and he didn’t need this entire circus to engulf his life at this moment.

Responsibility for that – and the damage caused to the credibility of the event – rests entirely with the organisers.

Citing concerns over the state of his health as part of the reason not to induct him was the organisers’ pitiful attempts to find a get out of jail card.

Scrolling through the list of inductees, I wonder what the true greats of our game – Baxter, McNeill, Jinky Johnstone, Dalglish and the Lawman – would have made of this shambles. There again, having witnessed the way our game is managed, maybe they wouldn’t have been too surprised ...